26 Jul 2010
In a recent decision in the matter of Schalk and Kope v. Austria, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has held that there is no requirement under the European Human Rights law to allow same-sex couples to marry. In this case, "the applicants alleged in particular, that they were discriminated against as, being a same-sex couple, they were denied the possibility to marry or to have their relationship otherwise recognised by law" and that "the applicants argued that in today’s society civil marriage was a union of two persons which encompassed all aspects of their lives, while the procreation and education of children was no longer a decisive element. As the institution of marriage had undergone considerable changes there was no longer any reason to refuse same-sex couples access to marriage".
The Court was, however, not impressed. The provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights were examined to hold that the bar to registration of same-sex marriage did not constitute a violation thereof. As a reminder, the ECHR also noted "that marriage has deep-rooted social and cultural connotations which may differ largely from one society to another. The Court reiterates that it must not rush to substitute its own judgment in place of that of the national authorities, who are best placed to assess and respond to the needs of society". Have a look at the decision.